• Kristen Moon

You have been deferred: Whaaa! Whaaa!

Updated: Apr 3, 2019

Deferred: the limbo of college admissions. You are not accepted, but not rejected either. A deferred applicant was not a strong enough contender to be accepted early admission, so now they are in the regular admission pool with the masses. So now what?


Let's start by telling you what NOT to do:

  • Do not call the admissions office and ask, "what can I do to strengthen my application?"

  • Please, don't have your parents call either! Yikes. Do you really think the admissions officers want to speak to all candidates that have been deferred? Nope.

  • Also, don't do nothing and wait. That's not the correct answer either.

The first thing to do when you receive the disappointing news you have been deferred is to take some time and think. Yes, think long and hard. Think if anything has changed since you first applied early admission to your "dream school". Is this still your top choice? Is another university looking like a better fit for you now? It is important to be honest with yourself at this point. If you are second guessing your initial decision and feel like another university might now be a better fit, then a deferral that allows you escape the binding early decision might actually be a positive. It will open up your options to attend another university, possibly one with a better financial aid package offered.

If you truly feel like the deferred college is still your top choice, then a set of steps must be followed. The first step is to craft a "Betterment Letter".


A Betterment Letter tells the university how you are a better candidate now vs. when you first applied. When you applied for early admission you were deferred because you were not a strong enough candidate. Plain and simple. Now we need to express how you are "better". This letter should be a one-pager and compelling. Let's break it down:

  • You are still VERY interested in attending and this university is still your top choice. If accepted, you will certainly attend. (Don't say this unless you truly mean it). Be direct and be clear with your message!

  • Elaborate on the awesome things you have accomplished since you applied. Discuss the accomplishments or accolades you’ve received in recent months. Have your grades improved? Are you working on a challenging school project? Did you win the speech and debate tournament? Did you secure a job shadowing position? Make your candidate profile stronger. Mention something you are currently doing that the admissions staff does not already know about.

  • Reiterate why this college is a perfect for you and what you will add to the campus community. This section should be brief. Do not reiterate items you have already mentioned in your personal statement essay. Be specific!

An ordinary, boring Betterment Letter will not do. It needs to be compelling. When we say compelling, we mean it! It must discuss something new. There is no point in reiterating what the admission office already knows. E-mail the letter to the admissions representative listed for your state or region. Also send a copy via snail mail, but do so promptly; time is of the essence. The letter needs to be sent right away.

About the author:


Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of MoonPrep.com. She specializes in Ivy League, BS/MD Programs, and International Students.







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